Food cooked sous vide style offers guaranteed perfection. Meats come out done just right, retaining all their flavor and texture. Veggies don’t lose any of their crunch or color and desserts yield that melt-in-your-mouth decadence. While sous vide can do all this and much more, there is one area where it can use some help to finish off its results.
This is typically in the case of finishing off the surface of proteins. If you want to make your fish or chicken skin crispy or give an outer sear to your perfectly cooked steak, then you could use a sous vide torch.
Searing sous vide meats creates a satisfying texture and color contrast on the outside of the meat. While you can also sear the same in a pan on the stove, using a sous vide torch will give you an instant sear without the concern of overcooking the meat in the center.
But meats are not the only thing you can use your sous vide torch for. If anything, you can also use the same to finish off your deserts like baked Alaska, meringue toppings and crème Brulee. And the creativity doesn’t stop here. You can also caramelize sugar, melt cheese and make a crisp topping for your oatmeal.
The reason why culinary torches complement this method so well is because the sous vide technique ensures perfectly cooked food on the inside and the torch completes the outside.
You really don’t want to expose your perfectly cooked food to any further heat once it has been cooked sous vide style. But you still want to get that sear.
A sous vide torch will help you achieve just that. It won’t affect the inside of the dish, whether it’s a meat or a dessert. But it will give you the perfect outside sear or grilled/charred effect to complete the look of your meal. This way, you also get lots of flavor, juiciness and texture on the inside enveloped by a gorgeous crust on the outside.
Using a Sous Vide Torch
To use a sous vide torch the right way, you need to take your time and make sure that the torch doesn’t get too close to your food. Also, the most important consideration is to make sure that the flame produced by the torch is an oxidizing, and not a reducing flame.
Of the two, the oxidizing flame completely combusts the gas being used and is identifiable by a dark blue, short flame that hisses and roars. On the other hand, a reducing flame is a large flame that has a yellow tip. This type has unburned hydrocarbons that will add a distinctly unpleasant taste to the food known as “torch taste”. This is what you don’t want added to your food so you need to be careful with your selection of a sous vide torch.
You could also use a diffuser to regulate the flame and prevent it from becoming too intense or concentrated in one area.
Considerations when using a sous vide torch
Temperature range: The highest temperature that a torch can reach and maintain is an important consideration. This is because the higher the temperature, the faster the sear. That said, you also want to make sure that the temperature doesn’t go too high to burn your dish. Based on your skill using a kitchen torch, opt for a model that offers a high range of adjustability.
Temperature consistency: Along with a wide temperature range, a sous vide torch should also offer temperature consistency. This refers to the ability of the torch to hold or maintain a consistent temperature when you use it. This also refers to both long and short time usage.
Size: Smaller torches can heat up to 2,500oF and are better suited for things like caramelizing sugar, melting cheese or browning a meringue. But for searing meats, you may want to go for a larger, industrial grade model that can reach higher temperatures.
Multipurpose: Torches come in different shapes and sizes and as such, their versatility also varies. For instance, if you are an avid sous vide cook, and work with seared meats and torched desserts at the same time, then go for a multipurpose torch. This means looking for a model that offers a wider range of temperatures so it can accommodate all your cooking needs.
Usability: A sous vide torch should be easy to use. You should be able to handle and adjust it without difficulty. If the torch is too heavy, or has tricky operation, it can become cumbersome to use. You may want to opt for an easier-to-use model instead.
Guarantee: With such a wide variety of kitchen torches available, the quality can vary significantly. There are many brands and models to choose from, some more well-known than others. Where possible, look for a model that offers a money back guarantee and comes with a warranty. Most reputable brands will back up their products with both.
Canisters: Most torches do not come with accompanying fuel canisters, although some brands do. When you purchase a kitchen torch, make sure to order a compatible canister with it as well.
Attachments: If you are new to using a kitchen torch, you may want to invest in a diffuser to even out the heat applied to your food. A diffuser is an attachment that you can fasten to your torch to make the flame more consistent. Using a diffuser will improve the sear you get by distributing the heat evenly across the surface.
Using a diffuser will also reduce the torch taste that can often accompany the use of a kitchen torch.
Kitchen Torch Recommendations
There is quite a bit of variety when it comes to buying a kitchen torch. There are different models and makes with different fuel types and price ranges. To make things easier, here is our recommendation of two sous vide torches that will work equally well for novice and seasoned sous vide cooks:
The BernzOmatic TS800 is an all-rounder product. It is a heavy duty torch that handles projects like soldering and welding but is equally suitable for searing your sous vide meats to perfection.
The torch is designed for easy portability with user friendly features. The design makes for easy handling and it has adjustable flame knobs that are easy to use. To adjust flame intensity, just turn the black knob left or right.
This feature of the TS8000 lets you control the flame which makes it very versatile. It can be the perfect companion for a new sous vide enthusiast in the kitchen giving them more control over this device. At the same time, even experts can use this torch to create flawless food presentations.
The torch is designed with a cast aluminum body which means that it is durable and will last you a long time.
There is a yellow knob on the body of the torch. This is a safety feature that allows you to turn it to the OFF position when the torch is not in use. To light the torch, all you have to do is turn it to the ON position and push in.
The torch fires up every time and is ready to use instantly.
To turn it off, simply let go of the yellow button and the torch will extinguish.
The ON/OFF trigger is easy to operate using one hand only and will allow you to handle the torch with confidence and safety.
This product is pressure regulated for consistent performance. So even when you tilt or momentarily invert the torch, its performance doesn’t get affected in any way.
There really isn’t much to complain about when talking about the performance and features of the TS8000. However, on the flip side, this model does not come with an accompanying fuel tank, so you will have to invest in a separate one.
Customers who have used this product love its versatility for all kinds of cooking applications. Not just sous vide, but the torch is equally effective for starting woodstoves and campfires and other works like soldering and welding.
They really like the fact that the TS8000 is compatible with the Searzall diffuser attachment. When used together, the Searzall delivers perfect searing results and lets you up your sous vide game to the next level.
Users also applaud the fact that the torch is compatible with multiple fuels. There were some concerns over getting a hint of taste from the fuel but that can be remedied by using the Searzall attachment.
- Adjustable flame
- Durable body construction
- Safety lock mechanism
- Suitable for all skill levels
- Comes with lifetime warranty
- Does not come with fuel canister
Featuring a very sleek design, the Sansaire Searing Kit makes an instant impression with its aesthetics. This product is sold as a kit with a torch, a propane tank, a searing rack and a drip tray.
The Searing Kit is the brainchild of a partnership between BernzOmatic and Seattle based sous vide manufacturer, Sansaire. The torch is a somewhat modified BernzOmatic with a noticeable difference of a wider than usual nozzle attached at the front.
This unique torch head gives a wider flame and greater heat than most other models. This lets you sear meat faster and more evenly.
The handle on this torch shares the same design elements as the BernzOmatic making it user friendly and easy to handle. The handle is quality made but may feel a bit heavier than other models.
There is the same lock mechanism on the Sansaire as BernzOmatic that lets you control the flow of propane when in use. Plus, the control lock will also keep the flame going even after you take your finger off the flame button. This feature can be very handy especially when you work with larger roasts that need more time to sear completely.
The torch also comes with its own wide-based black and white propane bottle. The wide base makes it easy to prop the tank stably on countertop. The tank accommodates 16 oz. of fuel which is adequate for hours of searing. When you run out, simply get a standard replacement tank from your local store.
The Searing Kit also contains a thick stainless steel searing rack designed to withstand the intense heat of the flame. At the same time, the handles on the rack stay cool for safe and easy handling.
To complete the kit, there is a durable, enamel coated drip tray to catch all fat and drippings. The tray protects your counter from getting spoiled and slides neatly into the grate for a stable, all-in-one base.
The rack and tray are nice additions to the kitchen and may be one of the reasons why the price point on this product is higher than other kitchen torches.
Customers who have used this searing kit consider it an excellent all-in-one investment. Those who bought it for searing steaks and roasts absolutely love it complementing the outstanding quality of the torch. They also appreciate the inclusion of the rack and tray for a mess-free searing session.
But what many did miss was the absence of a way to control the intensity of the flame. This model only has an On/Off mechanism with no way to control flame intensity. Since the flame is more intense than other torches, the Sansaire may not be the best fit for delicate sears on something like chicken, fish or even torched desserts.
- Sleek design
- Exceptional control
- Fast and powerful
- Comes with fuel tank, searing rack and drip tray
- Has a very expensive price tag
- No flame control mechanism
- Strong flame may leave an overpowering torch taste
It’s not hard to think that all torches do the same thing and one can be used in place of the other. However, as you have seen here, the TS8000 performs very differently from the Sansaire model.
So if you are looking for heavy searing such as steaks and roast and not much else, then opt for the Sansire Searing Kit. But if you want to work with a variety of foods then the TS8000 offers more versatility.